I was going to write a blog about an interesting article I read in the Time magazine written by Dean Ornish, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California. In the article he talks about how “lifestyle medicine” is cheaper and, depending on the illness, can be as effective as drugs and surgery. With certain chronic illnesses, it amazes me why all doctors don’t readily adopt this methodology. To be fair I need to say that this is a generalisation as there are some doctors out there that are incorporating lifestyle medicine into their practices.
An example would be patients with hypertension. There are some patients who would benefit from changing their lifestyle (diet and exercise) as opposed to taking a drug which has a number of side effects. I used to work for a pharmaceutical company and would call on doctors all day, reciting study after study (that our company had sponsored) showing the benefits of prescribing our drugs. These doctors get bombarded daily with this information. These same doctors do not have dieticians and other non pharmaceutical practitioners explaining to them the “lifestyle medicines” that are available. Money is an important driver in this equation.
I was then listening to a TED talk by Steven Levitt titled “Surprising stats about child carseats”. Well worth watching. The bottom line of his talk is that a normal safety belt for children over 2 years of age, meets the legal safety requirements that car seats need to meet in the USA. Yet there is a law saying that you need to use a car seat and not a safety belt.
To view the talk, click here
This all got me thinking and I thought about the factors that would change laws that are certainly not in the interest of society. Often these laws create an additional burden on our resources.
I believe that the energy and costs involved to get these laws changed is what prevents people from trying to get them changed. There is no financial reward in doing this so it doesn’t happen. And this, my friends, is the problem. Money talks or the lack thereof does not talk.
The classic that comes to my mind is swimming pool fencing laws. I am not going to debate all the laws involved with fencing swimming pools but there are, in my view, a number of them that are completely illogical. Besides this, I do not see the state government fencing the beach, dams or lakes which are also a threat to our children.
The other problem is politicians being too nervous of losing votes of certain interest groups (who by the way, often has a financial incentive for these laws staying in place) if they were to support some more logical law.
Do you know of any laws that don’t make sense?